This Is The House (1945) by Shelley Smith

On an mountaintop on a remote West Indian island stand the house belonging to the Premier Justice Antoine Jacques, and in that house lies the Morte – Jacques’ wife. Julia lies in bed, afflicted by total paralysis, knowing that death must come one day. But death decides to come early…

Antoine begs Quentin Seal, an author of detective stories who comes to the island to write his books, to investigate Julia’s murder. But does a writer have the skills to get to the bottom of the case? When a second body is found, it seems there is every chance he doesn’t…

Sorry that the blog has been quiet for the past couple of weeks. It’s been utterly hectic here in Puzzle Doctor land, with work and stuff taking priority – I’ve read a couple of books, but there’s been no time to share my wisdom with you, dear reader, about them. But things are easing off now, so it’s time to tell you about them.

Thanks to Kate for this recommendation. I’m trying to finish Bev’s Just The Facts, Ma’am, challenge and I was stumped for “WHERE – On an island”. I’ve been aware of Shelley Smith for a while, but never tried her work. She wrote fourteen crime novels, mostly between 1942 and 1956, with three coming later. A number have been re-released with weirdly modern covers – are the publishers trying to make the causal buyer think these are new titles? I have no idea if she had a regular sleuth – I think not, as the blurb of the other title I own seems not – but Quentin Seal does the job nicely here.

I’m not sure how much I can praise this title though. It opens very well, with a strong setting and the idea of the Morte really getting under my skin. There’s some good questions being posed at the start and while Quentin is trying to be accepted as a sleuth into the closed circle of suspects, the book is very enjoyable. It was around the halfway mark when it began to tail off and lose my interest.

It’s perfectly fine, but after a strong opening with some clever ideas, it’s disappointing that it all goes a bit flat towards the end. There’s enough here to make we want to try Smith again, but not immediately.

If you want to read Kate’s review, click here.

Just The Facts, Ma’am: WHERE – on an island

One comment

  1. I agree that this is disappointing given the praise given to some of her other books – particularly “An Afternoon to Kill”. I did learn something from it – that something (I won’t mention what in case of spoilers) is not illegal under French law.


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